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Poetry Pleases: Man In A Geriatric Ward

There is compassion and understanding in Joyce Worsfold's poem about the fading of the light.

He sits hunched like a frightened bird
His goldfish mouth speaks
Words, words
slip senselessly
sometimes silently
from his slack lips.
His hands tremble
his body shakes and struggles
to hold, to have, to hunger
to nourish and to live.
His whole being cries in the wilderness
in the sterile whiteness of his curtained crevice.
His eyes shift
He stares
shadows move and mingle make
menacing retreats and advances.
He pushes his way through the fog of recall
Sometimes a glimmer from the taken harvests.
He reaches out and almost touches
but it blows from his trembling grass like dandelion seedlings on a windy day.
He holds a cup not comprehending the scalding liquid
in the dark whirlpool
he sees his own image
He swears loudly and profusely and asks for jam
Then cries at its colour for he wanted another
and couldn’t find the words.
He rages and the tears fall wet
He’s mindless, mad, murderous
and they shake their heads

and wonder that such a small thing
can make the shadow.
The storm subsides and melts and fades.
He has the jam, the tea, and love
Such as it is.


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